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Posts Tagged ‘morning’

OGIO-motorcycle-rides[1]First motorcycle outing of the year on Saturday and it was glorious. We managed to sandwich the ride in between rainstorms. The sun was out in full force, warming the air to a brisk 50 degrees when we took off. Of course, I had my miracle jacket on high so I was toasty. Bald eagles, deer and mountain sheep were all out in force taking advantage of the weather just like us.

After the long winter break, I kind of have to get back in biker mode and it takes a while. Remembering all the parts and pieces of being comfortable – the silk scarf, the hair pulled back and secured so it doesn’t tangle in the wind, the right gloves for the cool weather, the leathers and of course, the connector cord for my heated jacket.

But the biggest “Oh yeah” for me is the sense of power that radiates from that huge hunk of chrome and metal. The bike roars to life and I find myself grabbing tightly to my guy, taking a big breath and anticipating the soaring sensation that will come as we hit the highway.

And then there’s that lung-filling fresh air after being huddled inside all winter. The great feel of sunshine on my cheeks. Sky so blue it hurts your eyes. And the hope and promise singing from the trees that are covered with spring buds ready to burst into leafy glory. The peach fuzz covering of green on the hills that have been soaking up the rain. The rush of the river pushing at its banks, swollen from the spring thaw.

And so precious, sipping coffee and eating fresh baked pastries with my husband at the old bakery that is a favorite stop of ours. It’s rare, this relaxing, quiet time together – actually having a real conversation, uninterrupted by phones, grandkids, jobs, errands, and the over-zealous dog.

Sometimes I chaff at having to devote every good-weather Saturday to time on the motorcycle. There are many other things I love to do and can only fit into a Saturday. But I have to admit that once we’re on the road, I forget to wish I was elsewhere because I’m so loving being where I am.

Isn’t that just the way in this crazy busy life of ours? Our list is long, our time short. We have to double and triple book to get it all in and half the time we are too exhausted to actually enjoy ourselves. We don’t prioritize according to what we need, we scramble our schedules because of what we want.

Much as I hate to admit it, I need those kicked back Saturdays on the back of the bike, breathing deep, taking in the sights, and being close to my life partner. It brings balance and sanity to my otherwise topsy turvy world.

Life balance is key if we are to negotiate the journey from birth to death with any kind of success and satisfaction. And balance is not what the enemy wants for us. He will always introduce too many choices to keep us from being focused. He will paint unrealistic pictures of the things we desire and then try to convince us we deserve them, we need them, and we should go for them to the detriment of more important, less glittering activities.

Just as that first few minutes on the bike remind me of the power and pure enjoyment I will soon experience, the first few minutes in God’s word reminds of the same thing. His word is rich, bursting with wise instruction, filled with peace and hope. It is solid and sure, and satisfying to my mind, my heart and my soul.

I need those times of breathing deep and drawing close to the One who gives me breath.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Or as the message translation puts it, “I have told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

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We hear the word ‘glory’ so often it sometimes becomes a bit hard to define in the spiritual term. What is image[1]glory anyway? Can you truly see glory? And if you can – how would you describe it?

I love our motorcycle rides this time of year because the beauty in the landscape is just breathtaking. So all week I was looking forward to Saturday. Imagine my disappointment when I woke to fog and mist shrouding everything. However, this does not deter my husband in anyway so we leathered up. I always pray at the beginning of the ride for God to show me something amazing along the way. Yesterday I prayed especially for God to show me glory despite the fog and dark skies. (Honestly, I figured in order for Him to answer this prayer He would have no choice but to do away with the fog and give me sunshine and clear skies. How clever of me, right?)

We were just a few minutes on the road when the skies did open up to what promised to be a gorgeous day and I thought, now that’s glory – blue skies, sunshine and a wispy cloud now and then.

But down the road a few miles the fog set in again and pretty soon all we could see was well – fog with a few shadowy tree outlines buried within. We decided to keep going hoping things would change. (I can smile when I say that because my trusty electric jacket was keeping me toasty despite the chill in the air.) As we started over Blewitt Pass things did change. There were places where the sun would break through for a few minutes and shine on the rich autumn landscape and I thought to myself, now that’s glory.

Then the fog would close in again. We came around one corner and though we were still in fog, there was one spot where a break allowed sunlight to come through like a spotlight. You could see the rays radiating down and where they touched on a patch of meadow the colors were enhanced in such a way they shimmered – green grass touched with moisture, red and gold trees surrounding the patch. But it was better than that – standing right in the middle of the scene was a soft eyed doe, just frozen there enjoying the beauty. And – it was even better than that because at her feet was a small pool of rainwater and her reflection was clear as day. And I thought – now that’s glory.

We moved on, the mist closed in again. But a few miles down the road the fog was gone and brilliant sunlight highlighted the amazing fall landscape of red and gold and green and yellow and every shade in between. And I thought – now that is really glory.

But coming around a corner there was a stand of trees that hadn’t even begun to turn. They were still green and lush as if they had ignored the change in the weather. Right in the middle of that stand of green was one small maple – every leaf the brightest yellow. Kissed by brilliant sunlight it was almost blinding. And I thought – that truly is glory.

The realization suddenly came to me that glory is not in a beautiful landscape or the sun or the moon or the stars – the glory is that God chooses to reveal Himself through these things. Glory is in the fact that with our common human eyes – we can see God in the things around us He created. All things move and breathe and shine and shimmer because of Him. We won’t see glory in all its fullness until we meet Him face to face. But in His mercy He gives us glimpses and tastes and touches along the way.

We live life in a fog of busyness, stress, pressure, grief, bitterness, fear, anger, troubling news headlines, soaring highs and plunging lows. The only way we will see glory day to day is to choose to see it. We must believe God is always just a mind shift away waiting to show us He is bigger and better, more powerful, life giving, battle winning, promise keeping and hope shining in the dark. He is the beauty around every bend in the road.

Even more amazing about God and His glory – not only do we get to see it, but we get to be it. Matthew 5:16 says “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

We are to be the small maple among the forest of evergreen, standing out and shining that blinding light of Christ in us to a lost, broken, dark and suffering world. What a gift! What a privilege! What an amazing God to come up with a plan like that.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

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MP900070786[1]Like many other areas this time of year, we are battling wildfires which thrive on vegetation dried out by the hot summer sun. Two large fires, one to the south and one to the north have painted our skies with a hazy smoke cover.

The strong smell of burning timber and the fine film of ash that settles everywhere are clear evidence that those fires continue to rage and a barrage of firefighters fight to save homes and control the burn.

Ash is certainly a symptom of troubled times. The Bible refers to ashes as a symbol of repentance and grief. Men dressed in sackcloth and ashes when crying out to God as an outward sign of their humility and sincerity in their need for mercy.

For the last few evenings I’ve walked out on my deck to watch the sunset. It has been overwhelmingly beautiful, the smoky haze creating vivid reds and pinks as the sun sinks behind the hills.

I am reminded over and over of the phrase “Beauty for Ashes” when evening falls and I’m surrounded by the artistry of God where light through ashes creates a priceless masterpiece.

God always uses the tough and tragic times in our life to move us to a place of beauty if we let Him. Job suffered greatly and was restored to a point far beyond his losses. Moses was exiled from his beloved home only to return as the Deliverer of people. Joseph’s story is a classic tale of beauty for ashes.

The common threads between these stories, and many others, are acceptance, obedience and unwavering faith. God always wants to bring us to a better place but He needs our cooperation.

If the sun refused to shine because the smoke blocked its rays, none of these gorgeous sunsets would occur. If I refuse to trust and do what I am called to do because tears are the order of the day, I will never experience God’s great mercy that picks me up, sets me on my feet again and allows me a vision of my future made more brilliant because it’s been washed by those tears.

I’m thanking Him today for this reminder, handed to me as I stand on my deck on a soft summer evening, watching the miracle of ashes for beauty.

Is 61:3 :…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness  instead of mourning, and a garment of praise  instead of a spirit of despair.”

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It happens every January 1, a new year like a blank page begging for a story.  It stretches out before you, not yet sullied, not yet marked by disappointment, not yet peppered with regret.  You look back and analyze the past year and there are always parts you’d like to erase.  You look forward and begin to make resolutions that will guarantee improvement.

There is excitement and enthusiasm for a while.  If you are like me, you get into a cleaning frenzy.  You reorganize.  You dust corners you’ve forgotten about for the past several months.  I would love to start every year by throwing out the old wardrobe and starting over with everything brand new, never worn. 

The first day of a new year is perfection – for about five minutes.  Hard as you try you can’t keep it that way. Before the day ends you’ve probably said something you wish you hadn’t, neglected something you should have taken care of, and shoved an item into a place it didn’t go. All those wonderful resolutions already starting to crumble and you have another 364 days to go.

Still, I am a hopeless resolution maker. I am a dreamer of better decisions, kinder thoughts, more generous actions and a deeper walk. I am a seeker of more meaning and richer relationships.  I am a planner of more organized days and fewer busy nights.

For several years now I have been reading through the Bible, beginning January 1st and finishing triumphantly December 31st. I have not failed to live up to this commitment yet.

And God has not failed to reveal new ideas and thoughts to me through His amazing words.  Here is the perfect example.

It’s January 3, 2013 and I have just read through the story of creation again.  I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve studied this particular section of scripture. However, this is the first time I was struck with how it parallels the start of a brand new year. Picture God looking out on nothing and deciding to create something, so He starts with light.

Now here is the clue God gave me for how to improve my life in 2013. God didn’t create light and jump to the next step. “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good,…” Genesis 1:3-4a

God took time to look His first step over and make sure it was good before moving on. What a thought!  Take time to make sure where you are is right and good before you move forward.

To me that means when the realization comes that I’ve stumbled in thought, word or deed, I need to stop and make amends. When I’m short with my husband, who is one of the few people who can push me from my normally tolerant and gentle self to irritation, I can’t just walk on.  I have to stop and ask forgiveness because I desire to please God in all things.  I want Him to look at me and say “that was good, move on.”

When I neglect my devotions or don’t take time with someone who needs time, or spread gossip, or fail to put all of my effort or talent in what God has called me to do, I need to go back and make it right.

God stopped several times in the creation process and assessed His work. Did the world He created stay beautiful and unsullied? Nope.  Man messed it up within a very short time, and continues to distort it every day. But that doesn’t change what God did.

Take some time this first week of 2013 to look for the original good in God’s actions that first week of the very first year ever.  Here’s what you will find:

  • There is still heart wrenching, soul moving beauty in a sunrise. 
  • There is still tranquility in the still waters and breathtaking power in a waterfall.
  • There is still majesty beyond description in the mighty mountains and cool, soothing peace in the lush valleys.
  • There is still hope in the shimmer of moonlight, laughter in the antics of animals, wonder in the effortless soaring of a bird, faith in the ebb and flow of the ocean.
  • And never doubt, there is still goodness in man. The news may try to hide it, evil will try to cast a shadow on it. But it’s there, every day, in the heart and spirit of the ones who choose to walk with God and live out love, forgiveness and grace.

Look for it and you will find it. When you do, remind yourself “it is good”.

 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good….” Genesis 1:31a

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I love 4:30 a.m. on a summer morning.  When I slip outside in my robe with a cup of coffee in hand it’s still dark.  And quiet – so very quiet it brings a sense of peace that I embrace because I know within a short time it will be shattered by the day’s  events.

Everything is asleep.  No birds sing.  The trees are still.  There isn’t even a hint yet of the sun stretching her arms and yawning before peeking over the distant hill.  It is a moment in time filled with expectation.

With the stretch of sweltering heat we’ve been experiencing, the early air is a kiss of cool that will not last so I let it settle around me and I sit very still.  I’m waiting for the first sense of something.

It comes with the tiniest puff of a morning breeze.  That sweet little sensation is followed by the distant sound of a car engine starting.  I feel bad for the driver who hasn’t the time to welcome a few moments of stillness.  I keep my eyes on the horizon because I want to be the first to catch a glimpse of pinkish light.  I want to see the beauty and have a flash of compassion for the sleepyheads who are missing this.

The beginning of a new day is not something to be taken for granted.  Our human minds can never know ahead of time what will follow.  Oh, we have our routines, our tasks, our plans, our responsibilities.  We are so caught up in them we miss the grace filled gifts that drop unexpectedly when we least expect them.

Take this morning for instance.  I could be delving early into my housework, repairing the damage of a busy week before we jump on the motorcycle in less than two hours.  I could be getting a start on the laundry.  I could be working on my latest manuscript that I’m always trying to find time to finish.

But if I were doing any of those things, I wouldn’t be sitting here watching the neighbor’s cat slinking along the top of a wooden fence like an Olympic gymnast on the balance beam, soundless yet alert, in search of an unsuspecting mouse in the field.

I wouldn’t notice that when the willow branches stir they dance in perfect unison to a soundless symphony.

I wouldn’t catch the beginning of light dispelling the darkness to the point where shadowy outlines begin to reveal themselves and it’s like God is creating the earth again as I watch.

I wouldn’t have the satisfaction of laughing to myself and telling the first golden rays of sun, “Ha – I win the who-got-up-first contest.”

In a few minutes I will see dust and hear traffic and feel heat.  In a few minutes I’ll be busy.  In a few minutes my plans and routine will begin to be rerouted by the unexpected turns of the day.  In a few minutes I’ll have to have conversations, make decisions, get exasperated, and keep moving forward.

But for these few moments the world is perfect.  Every morning that I get the chance to do this I think it must be like resurrection morning when Jesus stood expectantly, waiting for the weeping world to wake so He could reveal Himself as the miracle of all miracles.  I bet He watched shadows fade, saw the sun wake, felt the breeze stir, listened for the sound of approaching feet and inhaled the beauty of the moment knowing He would soon be busy with His people and His message.

Precious Lord, this morning my heart overflows with gratitude for this tiny moment in time when You come to me to resurrect a heart that has been beaten down by the pressures of living.  I appreciate your taking the time to lift Your hand and point out the beauty of stillness.  Remind me today in the valley of my life that the mountaintop awaits on the other side of the day, here on my porch just before sunrise.  Amen

His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise. Rays of light flash from his hands, where his awesome power is hidden.  Habakkuk 3:4

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It’s 4:30 a.m. and the sun should be peeking over the hill.  Unfortunately, thick rain clouds make it difficult to know for sure if that’s happening.  If you read my previous blog you know we are leaving bright (well, maybe not bright) and early this morning on an 8 day motorcycle trip.  And it’s seriously threatening to rain on our parade.

Yesterday was 82 degrees and gorgeous, teasing me into gleeful anticipation.  I picked out my outfit for this morning with thoughts of sunscreened arms under a clear blue sky. The shirt I chose was pink with a Harley logo on the front to match my pink leather chaps, a gift from my biker husband on our 40thanniversary.  This morning I’m tucking the shirt in my bag and pulling out my turtleneck and black leathers, much more suited to inclement weather.  And – the rain gear.

I have nothing against a little sprinkle, although this looks to be a bit more than that.  What I do have a problem with is army green which is the color of my rain ensemble.  It’s not pretty.  It’s not complimentary to my light complexion and blonde hair.  And it certainly is not fashionable!  The best you could say about it is it’s serviceable.  How boring is that?

Don’t get me wrong.  I can appreciate the serviceability, just not the lack of fashion.  It’s boxy, plain and well – green.  However, from past experience I can tell you it works.  It keeps me dry, cuts the wind, even adds some chill resistance factor.  Should the skies open up as they threaten, I will be prepared.  When we arrive at our day’s destination, I will be relatively dry.

It’s much like the full armor of God.  I don’t want to need it.  I want to wake to sunshine every day.  I want to throw my head back, suck in the fresh air and sing at the top of my voice.  But many days are not conducive to blind enjoyment.  In fact on most days I will face some type of threatening storm.  Much as I’d like to skip through life in Liz Claiborne dresses and Gucci shoes, I will most often find myself in army green.  In some environments it will not be considered fashionable.  On some days people will point their fingers and mock me.  On other days it will feel cumbersome and hindering.

But I’ve had experience enough to know it will always be serviceable.  Beyond my rain gear which deflects water, these garments will deflect the arrows of the enemy.  They will protect my most vulnerable parts from accusation and anger, from jabs and jeering, from harm and hatred.  They will keep me safe in the bloodiest wars, give me courage in the scariest situations and cover me with peace in the midst of turmoil.

The full armor of God may not be what I see in the glossy ads of fashion magazines.  But it will inevitably be the garments my world envies when they see me survive and thrive in a land of death and destruction.

Today I will wear my rain gear with this in mind.  My God has a garment for every situation.  Rain clouds will not frighten me.  I will throw out my army green, oversized arms and praise His name – with His living water running in torrents down my face.  I will smile at Mother Nature because as hard as she tries, she is no match for Father God.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Eph 6:13-17

No posts next week, friends.  I will be on the road!

 

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This was truly Weird Weather week in Yakima.  Sunday and Monday we had 90 degree temperatures – in April!  On Wednesday we had genuine should-I-build-an-ark rainstorms – in Yakima (basically a desert climate).  Don’t you just love Spring with all of it’s surprises?

Actually – I do.  There’s something about spring that speaks to my heart about freshness and promise, hope and new life.

The trees have been standing barren and bleak for months but all of sudden in spring they perk up, life starts coursing through their branches and tiny buds appear impatient to unfold in lush leaves.

The hills have been snow covered and sleepy but at the first hint of spring sunshine they drink up the snow melt and start growing a green crew cut.

And the tulips – oh the tulips.  They are inspirational.  They hide inside those dried up bulbs underground until God whispers “It’s time.”  At the sound of His voice they are so excited they fight their way to the surface through earth still partially frozen.  They strain and push to break through and they don’t stop there.  It’s like they can’t get close enough to God soon enough.  Those sturdy stalks will grow inches in a day, stretching straight up until their little heads burst into glorious bloom, wide open faces smiling right at their Creator.

Can anyone look at a bed of tulips and not feel joy? 

Tulips remind me of that first love spoken about in Revelations chapter 2.  Do you remember it?  The early stages of your relationship with Jesus when you were so enraptured by Him you couldn’t stop talking about it, singing about it, rejoicing in it?  You were like the tulip shaking with impatience to get closer to Him.  You soaked up His living water until you were so filled you had to start growing.  You pushed through every bit of what was trying to hold you back, keep you underground,  and you just kept stretching upward to get closer and closer to God. 

Have you lost that newness?  Have you become complacent?     Because I can tell you this – what God has done, what God’s Word says, what God has planned – is as new and fresh today as it was on the day of creation.  God in all of His glory, the God who has existed since before time began, the God who watches over us every minute of every day – has not one time become complacent in His duties. 

The Bible tells us His mercies are new every morning,  His compassions never fail, His love is never ending,.   I invite you today to stretch as tall as you can, lift your face to God and be like a tulip – eager and anxious for more Him. 

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;    great is your faithfulness.  Lam 3:22-23 

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